From Comcast SportsNetHead coach Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks have decided to part ways after just over four seasons together, ending a working relationship that seemed to have been teetering on the brink for quite some time.The decision came Monday night, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press, two days after the Bucks lost their fourth straight game to fall to 16-16 on the season. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced. USA Today first reported the parting.Skiles was 162-182 and in his fifth season with Milwaukee. He led the Bucks to one playoff appearance, a first-round loss to Atlanta in seven games during the 2009-10 season.At first glance, the timing of the move might seem curious. Even after their latest loss, the Bucks were still in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. But the hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach sometimes had difficulty meshing with a roster built around volume shooters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, and it appeared to finally reach the breaking point after a 95-80 loss to the Pacers in Indiana on Saturday night.This season the Bucks started out a surprising 6-2, only to lose seven of their next nine. They followed that with a four-game winning streak, the kind of wild swings that didn't sit well with a coach who values consistency -- both in play and preparation."The real challenge is we've had a couple of years in a row where ... we didn't buy into our defensive system," Skiles said before the season began. "If we do that, we'll be a good defensive team. If we don't, we won't. That's the real challenge, getting guys to buy in on that on the floor, give the effort, focus and concentrate as necessary to be a good defensive team."Despite the differences in style between the head coach and the stars on the team, the Bucks were just three games behind Indiana in the Central Division despite injuries to Beno Udrih and top defender Luc Mbah A Moute.Skiles helped coax a breakout season from Larry Sanders, who has emerged as a rebounding and shot-blocking monster over the last few weeks. The demanding coach pushed Sanders to be more consistent, and the lanky forwardcenter has responded. He grabbed 20 rebounds against Boston on Dec. 21 to start a string of double-digit rebound nights in five of his last eight games and leads the league with 3.07 blocks per game.Skiles' hard-driving style and focus on defense was always going to be tested by a roster revolving around Jennings and Ellis, two flashy scorers who prefer to get up and down the court and lure opposing teams into shootouts to help compensate for their lack of size on the defensive end.Skiles always thought the key to being competitive in the East was to buckle down and value getting stops over getting buckets. Jennings and Ellis have been giving plenty of effort, but the Bucks were in the middle of the pack in points allowed per game (15th) and field goal percentage defense (18th), below Skiles' lofty expectations.Two other coaches, the Lakers' Mike Brown and Brooklyn's Avery Johnson, are also out of work in this young season. Brown was fired after five games and Johnson late last month, about three weeks after being named Eastern Conference coach of the month.Skiles' exit in Milwaukee follows a similar path as his other head coaching stints. He lasted about two and a half seasons in Phoenix and was out 25 games into his fifth season with the Chicago Bulls in 2007-08, with his stern approach usually providing a big boost early in his tenure before wearing on the players later in his stay. Skiles was in the final year of his contract with the Bucks, who play Phoenix on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday.His departure could be the first in a series of big shake-ups for the Bucks. General manager John Hammond is in the final year of his deal, while Jennings and Ellis can both become restricted free agents after this season.Multiple reports said assistant Jim Boylan would fill in for Skiles on an interim basis.
The Cubs are hosting their first World Series game since Oct. 10, 1945 tonight, and there's an important family member that may not be in the stands for it.
Joe Maddon's mom, Beanie, was expected to be in attendance, but that's now in jeopardy after Maddon told reporters prior to the game that her flight from Philadelphia to Chicago was delayed due to an aircract that caught fire at O'Hare airport Friday afternoon.
Operations have resumed, but it's unclear whether her flight will arrive in time for her to make Game 3 when the Cubs battle the Cleveland Indians.
With the city drunk on Cubs fever, the Cleveland Indians expect to face hostile conditions when storied Wrigley Field hosts its first World Series game since 1945 on Friday.
But Indians manager Terry Francona said the potential for an unreceptive atmosphere shouldn’t intimidate his club. Francona said Thursday that the makeup of the Indians, a group flush with veterans and and confident young stars, should help the team manage itself in the potentially Unfriendly Confines in Game 3 of the 2016 World Series. Josh Tomlin faces the Cubs Kyle Hendricks in the contest, which begins at 7:08 p.m. CST.
“It will be a tremendous atmosphere,” Francona said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of people cheering for us. But then that’s where it comes in the feeling in the clubhouse because it is going to be us against the world (Friday), but us is pretty good. We have a good feeling. Everybody in there protects everybody else and takes care of everybody else.”
Wrigley Field promises to offer a surreal setting on Friday.
The Cubs have never played a game this late in the calendar year and they haven’t been to this far in the postseason for several generations.
Fans were lined up for the Cubby Bear as early as 5 a.m. and other local watering holes reached full capacity 4-5 hours before first pitch with patrons paying ridiculous cover charges just to be able to watch the game live from Wrigleyville.
Still, Cleveland isn’t unprepared for insane playing conditions. The Indians won their only game at always electric Fenway Park in the American League Division Series and then emerged victorious in two of three games at the insanely loud Rogers Centre in front of crowds of 49,507 and 48,800. Veteran first baseman Mike Napoli said he hoped the Indians might face the Cubs in the World Series just so he could experience Wrigley Field in October.
“It's a park you want to come to and play,” Napoli said. “I watched when they clinched to go to the World Series and how crazy it was and seeing the fans in the streets where they had to have police escorts. You could just see the crowd just part ways.
“So it's going to be fun. It's something that I wanted to be a part of, and thought that it would be an unbelievable World Series.”